Thursday, January 28, 2016

Voter Migration and the Geographic Sorting of the American Electorate

There has been some recent speculation about segregation between political parties throughout the nation (i.e., Republicans or Democrats being found in the same neighborhoods,) Many hypothesize that migration effects political criteria, and therefore creates one-sided neighborhoods. To prove this hypothesis, this study mapped migration patters of 2008 voters to voting booths, organizing them by political party. The maps show migration patterns from Portland, Oregon, separated by political party (democratic voters on the top, republican voters on the left).

These maps determined that both parties travel a similar distance to voting booths, but republican party members on average traveled a bit further. However, the next question that this study asks is why? Why go to a different area to cast your vote when there is a booth in your own neighborhood? To determine why these patterns occur, the study also analyzed factors in the decisions of these migration patterns. This information yielded that "partisans relocate based on destination characteristics such as racial composition, income, and population density but additionally prefer to relocate in areas populated with copartisans."

Tam Cho, W. K., Gimpel, J. G., & Hui, I. S. (2013). Voter migration and the geographic sorting of the American electorate. Annals of the Association of American Geographers103(4), 856-870.


  1. This is an interesting study! It makes a lot of sense to me because when I try to figure out where I would like to live after college, one of my priorities is always moving to a state or city that isn't completely Republican. It's also a validating feeling to know that your opinions are similar to other people's and that might actually make people feel more confident about casting their vote, or that their vote even matters at all.

  2. Interesting! Did the article mention if the state's political identity was a factor in the pattern of separation? It seems like the concentration of each party would play a role in the severity of separation, so it would be interesting to see if the segregation was continuous across all states or if it differs based on percentage of each party in the state.